The words “Bleuel” and “queuing” have more in common than unique word properties.
Dr. William Bleuel of Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business is an authority on the mathematical study of queuing lines (queus) and two years ago showed me How to Make Better Call Volume Forecasts–a Non-Mathematical Approach Guaranteed to Improve Forecasting Accuracy.
In addition to case studies on Xerox and lessons on arrival rates, we heard about the episode of the classic show I Love Lucy from 1952 called “Job Switching.” In this episode Lucy and Ethel attempt to prove to their husbands that housework is tough. The two women get jobs at a candy factory and Ricky and Fred stay home and clean.
Lucy and Ethel, tasked with chocolate wrapping, prove to be loveably incompetent. In service delivery language the women experience more demand for chocolate wrapping than they can manage.
Dr. Bleuel tells us in statistical terms the arrival rate (lambda) of the chocolate was much more rapid than the service rate of the chocolate wrapping (mu).
This is an example of a common problem in call centers leading to long wait times and decreased customer satisfaction.
While Lucy and Ethel probably don’t know the “poisson” theory of queuing, they do know the chocolates were flying at them faster than they could wrap. At the end of the shift Lucy and Ethel’s cheeks, hats and braziers were stuffed with chocolate.
Do your call center agents have chocolate bursting from their seams?
We never find out why there was a demand for chocolate. We can guess it was new research suggesting chocolate was the magic pill for weight loss, happiness or love. The reason doesn’t really matter in the end–all that matters is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!
Dr. Bleuel warns against the assumption that demand and volume are constant. Variation happens–it’s a natural part of life in the chocolate factory and life in the call center.